Letters work!! November 26
From: Kosova Action Network, US (315) 471-7790Continuation - Jailed, Students and Individuals
Unfortunately the case of "the Prizren 10" is not an isolated one. There has been an increase in the numbers of Albanians arrested for unspecified terrorist attacks and sentenced to prison terms. There has also been an increase in the numbers of Albanians disappeared while in the custody of the police. We urge you to demand that the following actions occur in Kosovo:
Treatment of and Access to Detainees
The following was excerpted from a Human Rights Watch Report on human rights abuses in Kosovo since March 1998.
According to the Yugoslav government, a round of trials will begin in October, and eight judges will be sent to Kosovo to deal with the high case load. In the past, terrorism-related trials have been marred by serious procedural irregularities, as well as the use of torture to extract confessions.
* According to Adem Bajri, a lawyer in Pec who works with the Council for the Defense of Human Rights and Freedoms, as of September 21, 251 ethnic Albanians were in the Pec jail facing charges of terrorist activity.
* According to Albanian press reports, on July 20 the police stopped a bus near Podujevo that was traveling to Kosovo from Slovenia. Fifty-four ethnic Albanians who had been working in Slovenia were initially arrested. On August 17, thirty-nine were released. A lawyer who visited them on July 29 in Prokuple prison, which lies about twenty-five miles outside Kosovo in Serbia proper, told Human Rights Watch that he saw clear signs that they had been beaten.72 The other fifteen remain in detention charged with terrorist acts based on Articles 125 and 136 of the Serbian Penal Code. At the time of arrest, the police took from them a total of 352,018 DM.
* According to the Serbian police, after intense fighting with the KLA in Orahovac, they arrested 223 ethnic Albanians suspected of "terrorism." All of them except twenty-six were reportedly released after questioning.
* On September 4 and 5, the Serbian police detained more than 600 ethnic Albanians from around the villages of Ponorac, Ratkovac, and Drenovac who had been internally displaced because of fighting. According to diplomatic sources that spoke with witnesses, the women and children were released and the men were taken to the Ponorac schoolhouse, where they were filmed by Serbian state television as "captured terrorists." Most of the men were reportedly released on September 5 but an estimated forty people remained in police custody. Human Rights Watch saw photographs of the alleged "terrorists" which showed a large group of men on their knees with the hands behind their heads being guarded by armed police officers.
* On September 24, the Media Center in Priština reported that, according to the police, 194 ethnic Albanians had been arrested on September 22 and 23 during a police action in the Cicavica Mountains northwest of Priština. The authorities have opened investigations against those arrested. In contrast, on September 26, the Albanian daily Koha Ditore cited Ministry of Interior spokesman Bozidar Filic as saying that 325 Albanians had been arrested.
Some individual cases
Mr. Rukiqi was severely beaten on his third day in detention by policemen at the Priština prison. He told Human Rights Watch that he was held down and beaten on his hands, feet and kidneys with a three-foot long rubber baton. Over the next two weeks, he underwent dialysis eleven times. Mr. Rukiqi's sentence was reduced by the Serbian Supreme Court to thirty days, and he was released on August 22. Rukiqi had been involved in a number of human rights related cases, and had provided information on war crimes committed by Serbian special police forces in Kosovo to the ICTY in the Hague.
LDK Activists from Urosevac
Dr. Fehmi Vula
At least one hundred ethnic Albanians have "disappeared" in Kosovo since February 1998, about half of whom were last seen in the custody of the police. The precise number is impossible to determine since the Yugoslav authorities do not make public the number of people they have in detention. Some of the "disappeared" may be in prison, others may be dead. Others unaccounted for in the conflict may be in hiding, have fled Kosovo, or have joined the KLA.
Below are some cases of "disappearances" of ethnic Albanians believed to have been carried out by government forces:
Dr. Hafir Shala
The three men were traveling in Shaban Neziri's car to Priština when the traffic police stopped the car near Slatina village around 8:00 a.m. As the police were checking their identification, three men in plain clothes emerged from a black jeep that was parked nearby and told Dr. Shala to come with them to Priština, while Mr. Sinani and Mr. Neziri were instructed to follow in their car. All three men were taken to the police station in Priština and interrogated in separate rooms until 2:00 p.m.. At that time, Mr. Sinani and Mr. Neziri were released. They told their lawyer, Destan Rukiqi, that they heard Dr. Shala screaming from pain from an unknown room in the police station as they left.64
Mr. Rukiqi told Human Rights Watch that he had taken various measures to locate Dr. Shala, all to no avail. On April 16, he wrote to the Serbian Ministry of Justice, the Serbian Prosecutor's office, and the district prosecutor in Priština. The next day, the Priština prosecutor, Slavko Stevanovic, said the State Security office in Priština had no information on Shala's whereabouts. Letters written by Human Rights Watch to the Serbian and Yugoslav Ministries of Interior and Justice on July 20, 1998, on Dr. Shala's case remain unanswered.
Along with those who have been arrested and incarcerated there has been an increase in the numbers of people "disappeared" after last being seen in the company of the police.
Nine Men from Novi Poklek